Man 'Cooked Alive' After Police Tased Him at a Gas Pump

Deputy involved has now been charged
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2022 11:05 AM CDT
Updated May 20, 2022 12:30 AM CDT

(Newser) Update: The Florida deputy accused of accidentally setting a motorcycle rider on fire when he tased him at a Florida gas station in February has been charged with culpable negligence, a misdemeanor, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The biker, too, is being charged with reckless driving, fleeing law enforcement and resisting arrest. Our original story from Wednesday follows:

In February, Jean Barretto (spelled Barreto in other sources) stopped to gas up his dirt bike at a WaWa station in Osceola County, Fla. Moments later, he was tackled from behind by a sheriff's deputy. Additional deputies arrived, and one deputy deployed his taser while Barretto was on the ground. The spark ignited gasoline and caused a fireball that left Barretto with third-degree burns on over 75% of his body. Three deputies were also injured, including one with burns on over half his body, per the Orlando Sentinel. Ten weeks later, Barretto is still in the hospital, and his family's attorneys have requested intervention from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and US Department of Justice, saying police have withheld vital information, including body camera footage.

In a press release, the attorneys say Barretto was "cooked alive," with burns from his feet to his neck on both sides of his body. "He is wrapped and unwrapped in gauze daily, bleeding profusely still as he doesn't have the requisite amount of skin to contain his body fluids," notes the release, which also said police actions were "reckless, foolish, unnecessary, and deadly." The Sentinel reports that Barretto will soon be placed in a medically induced coma for skin grafting.

Barretto was on his way home after cops broke up a group of motorcyclists. Police say someone in the group had fired a gun. Barretto wasn't armed. WFTV spoke with his stepmother, who says police withheld information from the start, refusing to allow her to see her son when he was first in the hospital. Upon waking, she says the first thing he said was, "The police burned me." She says the 26-year-old man is a FedEx driver who loves his job and wonders whether it will still be there for him when he recovers. Barretto hasn't been charged. The Osceola County Sheriff's Office hasn't yet replied to requests for comment. The investigation is ongoing. (Read more Osceola County stories.)

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